NEW DELHI. A 34-year-old woman living in Turkman Gate recently discovered that she had 117 mobile connections in her name. Not once had she applied herself, and not one number belonged to her.
The only clue: she may have photocopied her voter ID sometime, say cops, which was used by several others as ID proof to get a mobile connection.
The DoT ( department of telecommunications) chanced upon her name in a random survey of customers' addresses. DoT has raised concerns of connections being given on forged documents, which are even used many times over by cellular operators to expand their customer base.
The woman in Turkman Gate (name withheld), belongs to a minority community and lives with her brother, having been abandoned by her husband. Until sleuths came knocking on her door, she was unaware that her name, identity and address had been misused in a public database.
"We believe that the woman might have photocopied her election ID card sometime in the past three years. There are some connections in her name which are around two years old. We suspect some unscrupulous persons used her ID for their own benefits," a officer who is part of the investigations said. "The woman has been cleared of any role in the incident. We have interrogated some men in the neighbourhood with interests in local PCOs, photocopy shops and mobile phone retailers, but we could not fix responsibility on anyone."
Officially, Delhi police remained tightlipped on the investigations though sources said 117 connections had been unearthed in the Turkman Gate case. Local cops have reportedly sent a report to the security agencies on this issue.
Earlier, in the first such case against major cellular operators, DoT had lodged a case of cheating and forgery against three service providers who had allegedly submitted forged documents with the department in order to expand their customer base across Delhi and NCR.
"We have registered three cases against three service providers after the ADG of the Telecom Enforcement Resources and Monitoring Cell, Akmal Hussain registered their complaint with us. DoT has carried out its own preliminary inquiries before approaching us," DCP (crime) Ashok Chand said. "The cases have been registered under sections IPC 420 (cheating), 468 (Forgery for the purpose of cheating), 471 (using as genuine a forged document) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) against the companies.
Under the rules, these companies had to verify whether the addresses provided by their dealers were genuine. But, preliminary inquiries show that on many occasions, the company management had not stopped services even when they noticed the forgery," he said.
Police said forgery had grown rampant over the past few years. "So far, around 143 such complaints have been verified to be true but we are still a long way off from even finishing the investigations," said a senior officer of the Inter State Unit of the crime branch, which is investigating the case. "There are similar allegations against at least two other service providers. The problems seem to have been come to the fore only since June 2009 when DoT detected such forgery in Delhi for the first time and sent notices to the respective companies."